The book is about a little Old Lady who lived at the top of a hill in a glorious Victorian era mansion, and her house overlooked a town. She was a traveler, and in her youth (When she was a Younger Lady, natch), she brought back animal friends to live with her; a Brindle London Squatting Cat, a Magical Mouse, an Alligator from China and a Tibetan Yak (Yes, she went to the A.A. Milne School of Capitalization).
But it is so much more than that. The book is elegantly written, with a gentle, formal kindness in its tone; with characters that respect themselves and one another (Well, except for the Brindle London Squatting Cat; who is, after all, a cat). Almost fifty years removed from that childhood, I can say now that the book dealt with many issues critical to the formative years of a child: Respect, love, kindness, sacrifice, xenophobia, fear (and overcoming it), tolerance, and moody cats too. The illustrations are glorious in their complexity, depth, and whimsy.
If you have a kid aged 4-7ish, I strongly recommend you seek this book out, and the ones like it. I actually found it on Amazon!
Other books like it that I loved nearly as much: